Prisoners get second chance

Robert Cannon created the Freedom for Life Re-entry Coalition because he had "been there, done that" and hopes to help others.

"I know those ropes," he said.

This coalition is a faith-based group of people who say they want to work together to help men and woman released from prison, on parole, on probation or recovering addicts and their families within Saline, Clark, Garland, Grant and Hot Spring counties.

On Thursday, the group met at First Pentecostal Church of Benton. During the meeting, groups of people met in committees to discuss ideas and the chairman of the Arkansas Parole Board, John Felts, spoke about his job on the board.

The only way a person can be released from prison is through the board, which is comprised of seven people who are appointed by the governor.

"I want to see people released who are ready to change their lives," he said. That can sometimes be hard. A person has to decide 'I'm tired of this same old, same old."

Felts also thanked the group for helping others and encouraging them to keep going.

"It's really about people helping people," he said. "Thank you for stepping up."

The coalition was started in February, Cannon said, in the hope of eventually building a re-entry center in Saline County.

Through partnerships with local businesses, volunteers and legislatures, the coalition will have resources available.

The group is still looking for people and other groups to participate.

"We are always looking for people who have a heart to help people," Cannon said.

For those who are interested in receiving more information about this group, they can call 501-813-5133 or email